WUHAN, China (AFP) - China signalled its World Cup intent with a fighting 3-2 victory over tricky European side Denmark as former champions Norway came from behind to beat Canada 2-1 on Wednesday.
China's group D rival Brazil, meanwhile, lashed footballing minnows New Zealand 5-0 in a resounding display of skills, while Australia snapped a 12-year winless World Cup streak by beating Ghana 4-1 in group C.
Substitute Song Xiaoli came to China's rescue, pouncing in the 88th minute with a amazing long-range strike to foil the Danish comeback plans after veteran Cathrine Paaske's equalised to level at 2-2 only seconds earlier.
"Nobody ever gave up," captain Li Jie said immediately after the game.
A hard-running China once again showed that determination and speed sometimes matter more than physique and technique.
In front of a near-capacity home crowd at the 52,000-seat Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium, they struck first when Li capitalised on a Danish foul to put her team 1-0 up in the 31st minute.
Bi Yan made it 2-0 19 minutes later. Denmark fought back but it was Song who stole the honours to earn China three points.
China's Swedish coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors said it was testament to China's attitude that they gave it there all.
"You have to play 100 percent to win such a game, and it's also an opening game so it was very important," she said.
Norway, ranked four and who won the trophy in 1995, had captain Ane Stangeland Horpestad to thank in Hangzhou after she struck a late winner that leaves them behind Australia on goal difference in their group.
The Norwegians, among the favourites to win the fifth World Cup, fell behind after 33 minutes when Christine Sinclair crashed through two defenders before laying off a superb ball to Candace Chapman who unleashed a bullet that hit the roof of the net.
But after that Canada were back-pedalling.
Norway found the target in the 52nd minute when Ragnhild Gulbrandsen rose to meet a cross. That inspired the Norwegians, and Horpestad pounced on a loose ball to gift them victory in the final 10 minutes.
"I think it was only the second goal I have ever scored for my country, but it was an important one," said a delighted Horpestad.
Daniela Alves, Cristiane, Marta and Renata Costa all found the back of the net for Brazil who outgunned an inexperienced New Zealand.
The Brazilians put on a virtuoso show and the score could have been much higher, serving a warning to group rivals China and Denmark.
Midfielder Daniela, 23, got things going in the 10th minute and Cristiane made it 2-0 soon after the break.
Daniela, who made her international debut at the tender age of 15, then flicked the ball to 2006 player of the year Marta who weaved up the left before smashing a drive into the net.
Marta added another in the dying minutes to bring her international goal tally to an astonishing 42 in 40 games.
"All of our goals today were magnificent; we had not only long shots, but good movement. All of our players played very well," Brazil coach Jorge Barcelos said.
While Australia is not seen as a title contender, they created their own slice of history by scoring their first World Cup win in 10 attempts, ending a 12-year drought with an emphatic victory over Ghana in Hangzhou.
Striker Sarah Walsh opened their account after 15 minutes.
After the break superior pace and fitness paid off with two goals from substitute Lisa De Vanna (57 and 81) and another from Heather Garriock.
"It certainly eased the pressure on the team. I think it will boost our confidence," said Australia's Scottish-born coach Tom Sermanni.
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